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Duke Ellington's Washington DC Duke Ellington




Duke Ellington


Duke Ellington's life and success were woven from the fabric of the black community in Washington that nurtured him. Ellington was born in 1899 into a middle class family - his mother's father was a policeman, his own father was a butler, sometimes serving in the White House. In his teen years, Ellington picked up keyboard techniques by hanging around veteran pianists like Doc Perry and Lewis Brown. "There were a lot of great piano players in Washington," he later raved. "It was a very good climate for me to come up in, musically." Ellington and his combo, "Duke's Serenaders," played their first gig at True Reformers Hall on U Street, and then he rode the crest of the dance craze. Quickly, he became a favorite at dances, parties, and band competitions. Later, he studied with classical musician Henry Grant, learning harmony and sophistication that became trademarks of his legendary career as a composer and band leader.

Ellington's Washington

Armstrong Manual Training High School
Doc Perry
Duke Ellington
Ellington Mural
Duke Ellington School of the Arts
Henry Grant
The Howard Theater
True Reformers' Hall
The Whitelaw Hotel


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